COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: Wearing face masks causes bacterial pneumonia

Rappler
FALSE: Wearing face masks causes bacterial pneumonia
According to the Department of Health, pneumonia is not contracted from wearing face masks. It cites a study stating that bacteria increase at a much lower rate when a person is wearing a face mask.
At a glance
  • Claim: Wearing face masks causes bacterial pneumonia.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: According to the Department of Health (DOH), pneumonia is not contracted from wearing face masks. It cites a study stating that bacteria increases at a much lower rate when wearing a face mask.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The claim was found in a video from a post in the Facebook page “Lynn Channel Warriors of Truth.” As of writing, the post has about 2,000 reactions, 1,700 comments, and 2,300 shares, and the video has about 43,000 views.
Complete details

On May 20, Facebook page “Lynn Channel Warriors of Truth” had a video wherein vlogger Lynn Agno said, at the 30:51 minute mark, that wearing face masks caused bacterial pneumonia.

She said: “[The Spanish flu killed millions of people] because of bacterial pneumonia na nakuha sa mask. Kaya abangan ‘nyo iyan, tataas iyong bacteria, tumaas ang bacteria, at tataas pa iyong bacterial pneumonia na magko-cause ng maraming deaths. Okay? Hindi iyong virus ng Spanish flu ang maraming kumitil sa buhay noong Black Plague…kundi iyong bacterial pneumonia na dulot ng pagsusuot ng mask.

([The Spanish flu killed millions of people] because of bacterial pneumonia obtained from wearing masks. So watch out, bacteria will increase, bacteria has increased, and bacterial pneumonia will rise even more and will cause many deaths. Okay? It’s not the Spanish flu virus that claimed many lives during the Black Plague…but the bacterial pneumonia caused by wearing masks.)

As of writing, the post has about 2,000 reactions, 1,700 comments and 2,300 shares, and the video has about 43,000 views.

The claim that wearing face masks causes bacterial pneumonia is false. 

In websites discussing pneumonia – such as those by the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the World Health Organization, the American Lung Association, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – wearing face masks is not listed as a cause or as a risk factor.

The Department of Health (DOH) has also debunked the claim in a post on its verified Facebook page, following an email from Rappler to verify whether face masks cause bacterial pneumonia. The post said, “Hindi makakakuha ng pulmonya sa pagsuot ng face mask. Ayon sa mga pag-aaral, higit na mas mababa ang porsyento ng pagdami ng bakterya sa pagsuot ng face mask.”

(Pneumonia is not contracted from wearing a face mask. According to studies, bacteria increase at a much lower rate when a person is wearing a face mask.)

Moreover, the claim that wearing face masks causes bacterial pneumonia has already been fact-checked by various organizations, like Reuters, USA Today, Full Fact, AFP Fact Check, AP News, Politifact, Boom, Health Feedback, and maldita.es

There were also claims in the video of the 18th century being the time in which a pandemic was said to have occurred, with mentions of the Black Plague, a plague pandemic better known as the Black Death, and the Spanish flu pandemic. Whether “Lynn Channel Warriors of Truth” mentioned the 18th century to pertain to the Black Plague or the Spanish flu pandemic, it was wrong in either case. Though there were recorded outbreaks of plague in the 18th century, the Black Death took place in the 14th century; the Spanish flu pandemic took place in the 20th century. 

Rappler has fact-checked another channel by Lynn Agno, “Lynn Channel,” many times before, and has fact-checked “Lynn Channel Warriors of Truth” at least once before. – Percival Bueser/Rappler.com

Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.